I never expected to enjoy Justice League: Cosmic Chaos as much as I did. When it was first announced earlier in 2022 under the guise of a Justice League game with a child-friendly spin, it was hard to know what to expect. Games skewing towards a younger audience tend to alienate older players, so it was definitely a gamble given the global appeal of DC Comics characters.
What appears on the surface to be your bog-standard licensed kids' game, this time with a DC Comics sheen, is actually a wily dungeon-crawler with RPG mechanics alongside a kooky, light-hearted story and art style.
It may not stand toe-to-toe with the likes of the Arkham games, but it's a combat-laden adventure younger gamers will adore. Whether you're favourite hero is Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman, there's fun to be had in Justice League: Cosmic Chaos.
What's most unique here, aside from the decidedly bright take on DC Comics' often gruff trinity of heroes, is the isometric camera and dungeon-focused gameplay loop. As Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman battle to save Happy Harbor, they'll have to comb through arenas littered with enemies, complete with branching paths, mini-bosses, and chests to hunt down.
It's a Diablo-lite approach that's perfect for people first testing out this style of game, while also providing just enough challenge to satiate DC fans here for the story and characters above all. As things go it's fairly deep with its plot, following the wacky niche character Mr. Mxyzptlk as he teams up with the interdimensional baddie Starro to spoof the Justice League's powers. It's nothing ground-breaking, but more than sustains the seven hours it took me to beat the main storyline. Completionists can also look out for an array of side missions, which delve deeper into these heroes' most famous comic book stories.
What most sold me on Justice League: Cosmic Chaos was the clear reverence developer PHL Collective has for the source material. There's reference to the plethora of Robins introduced over the years, countless callbacks to Wonder Woman's homeland of Themyscira, and an impressive array of comic-accurate suits to unlock. That was the main draw to me: hunting down comic book pages in the generously-sized Happy Harbor overworld to unlock an all-black Batman skin, aping the retro Michael Keaton Batsuit.
Combat is surprisingly detailed, with RPG inflections through alternative special powers, and each character's skill tree affording for new buffs to existing moves. The game is very generous with loot, so you can devote your currency into powering up the devastating Ultimate abilities, while also accounting for crowd-control ranged attacks and more efficient melee hits. You tend not to see this much depth in character progression from kids' games, which gives it the veneer of sophistication that makes it stand out. But of course, this is a combat-heavy dungeon crawler, so you'll need to get used to near-endless waves of enemies, and plenty of button-mashing to boot.
As a DC Comics fan, I went into Justice League: Cosmic Chaos sceptical. Expecting a run-of-the-mill family game without much personality, I was left impressed by the reverence that went into the final experience. The action gameplay is accessible but also scalable thanks to its surprisingly deep progression systems, and the treatment of these beloved superheroes will appeal to older fans alongside the target audience. It's a fun and cheery alternative to the often exclusively grown-up realm of comic book games.
Reviewed on PlayStation 5. A code was provided by the publisher.
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